Despite having retired twice, Ian Tait still holds down four jobs and he volunteers.
One by one, he lays out his four business cards on the table, the first emblazoned with the Delta Chamber of Commerce logo. Tait was named chair of the non-profit association of businesses and community organizations in April, just one month after being declared vice-chair.
“As chair, I’m the chief cheerleader for business in our community. ” says the retired BC Hydro employee, who also managed the company that made 6.8 million Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics commemorative pins.
He says one of the chamber’s latest strategies involves implementing “community action teams” to better represent and advocate the business interests of Ladner, Tsawwassen, Tsawwassen First Nation, North Delta, Annacis Island, Tilbury and the farming community.
As chair, Tait works with the chamber to connect Delta’s home-based businesses, major corporations and mom-and-pop shops, and encourages local companies to source goods and services at home in Delta.
He recently Tweeted: “Put your money where your house is.” In other words, shop locally to support Delta businesses.
He says the best way to keep business thriving is to be a “customer service fanatic.”
“Customer service will allow you to rise above your competitors and it will go a long way towards securing repeat business,” he says. “I am more likely to go to the small business who takes the time to make eye contact when I come in, to issue a greeting, to ask how my day is.”
From his North Delta home, Tait runs Tait Consulting Ltd., which helps organizations, businesses and individuals build relationships with First Nations and aboriginal people. It’s a field he got into after working in aboriginal relations at BC Hydro.
“People don’t know what they don’t know. They’re quick to assume and there’s a big gap in understanding and awareness between the aboriginal community and the wider community.”
In 1996, in recognition of his work with First Nations across B.C., the Squamish Nation gave Tait an honourary name, stél’mexw siiyá’y, which means “friend of the people.”
Since joining the chamber, Tait has started networking with Chris Hartman, CEO of the TFN Economic Development Corporation.
“We’re looking for that open relationship and sharing information and interests,” Tait says.
Another of his duties is co-chairing the Feed the Bees campaign, a partnership between the Earthwise Society and chamber, which encourages residents, organizations and businesses to plant bee-friendly gardens. Tait says there’s a strong economic driver behind increasing the local supply of pollen and nectar, since one out of every three spoonfuls of food we consume depends on a bee or pollinator. A die off of bees could devastate the local agricultural industry.
To learn more about the Delta Chamber of Commerce or to become a member, visit www.deltachamber.ca.